Disaster Aid for Veterinarians

Disaster Relief for Veterinarians 

2017 Hurricane and Wildfire Relief

Animals and many of our veterinary colleagues have felt Mother Nature’s fury as hurricane season takes its toll on coastal communities and wildfires scorch extensive swaths of the western United States. For those affected by these disasters, it will be a long road back to normalcy.

The AVMA is committed to bringing the veterinary profession together to assist colleagues in need, and we have been heartened to see the national response to these natural disasters. AVMA members and partners across the profession reached out to the Association asking how to assist the victims, and a broad range of organizations and partners in the animal health industry offered aid to help those in need.

The AVMA helps disseminate information within the veterinary community and among animal lovers and advocates to ensure an immediate and helpful response.

  • The AVMA is in constant contact with federal agencies, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to assist in getting information to the right people when needed.
  • We work with state and local veterinary medical associations and veterinary schools in the affected areas to provide information, guidance and assistance as needed.
  • As a member of the National Animal Rescue and Sheltering Coalition (NARSC), we participate in daily conference calls to help plan and coordinate animal-related response.
  • Our charitable arm, the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF), provides disaster reimbursement grants to AVMA member veterinarians who deliver emergency veterinary medical care and temporary boarding to animal victims of disasters. The AVMA donated $100,000 to bolster this fund in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
  • AVMA PLIT representatives reached out to veterinary practices in advance of the storms to provide early guidance on how to deal with potential damages and claims. PLIT's carriers began receiving claims even before the rains from Harvey had ended, and PLIT officials also provided insured customers with resources to help assess damages.

Resources for affected veterinarians

Insurance:

Disaster Reimbursement Grants:

Personal Well-being:

Business Relocation:

Assistance for Affected Animals and Clients:

If you want to help

Despite the natural desire to volunteer or send in-kind donations to the area, relief officials on the ground discourage most in-kind donations and will turn away any would-be volunteers who are not already part of a team that is trained and credentialed. There are a few instances in which specific donations or volunteer help is requested, and these are detailed in the "Situation updates from emergency officials" section below. Self-deploying volunteers can actually complicate and add to the work of local emergency officials; please do not take it upon yourself to enter a disaster-stricken area unless you are part of an organized response team with authorized access.

Emergency officials say the best way to help is to donate to reputable charities that will funnel the right aid to the people who need it. The AVMA donated $100,000 to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation’s Disaster Reimbursement Grants program to help veterinarians provide services to affected animals, and we encourage you to join us in that effort.

You can support the many veterinarians working to help communities inundated by Harvey by donating to the AVMF using the AVMF Code “Disaster Relief.” The CMVPR is raising money for veterinarians who suffered losses or have been housing displaced animals. Puerto Rico's government is providing additional donation information

Future volunteer work is possible

Anyone interested in volunteering their time to aid general recovery efforts should register with a National Voluntary Organization Active in Disaster and await word on how and where their efforts can help. As the situation allows volunteers to safely assist, individual volunteers will be connected with local responding organizations. It’s important to note, though, that most of this volunteer work will be non-veterinary.

In Texas: Veterinarians who are expecting to deploy to provide veterinary care in Texas at a later point will need to be licensed and can begin that process in advance. The Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners has applications available for Temporary Emergency Licenses for out-of-state veterinarians who expect to deploy in Texas.

In Florida: Florida-licensed veterinarians interested in offering volunteer services should contact the Florida Agriculture Department, Florida Veterinary Corps or Florida State Agricultural Response Team. Out-of-state veterinarians who expect to travel to Florida to provide relief veterinary services can apply for a 30-day temporary veterinarian license from the Florida Board of Veterinary Medicine.

To facilitate support of future incidents, veterinarians may want to consider joining and training with a veterinary medical emergency response team, such as a state veterinary medical reserve corps or local medical reserve corps program. For information, see https://mrc.hhs.gov.

Planning and preparing for disasters

For all who are not in the direct path of these disasters, the current situation is a stark reminder of the importance of advance planning and preparation. Please take time to make an emergency plan for your home and business, and review your existing plan if you have one.

Situation updates from emergency officials

HURRICANE MARIA:

  • Animal Response organizations are making assessments in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI). Current plans are to transfer up to 1,000 additional small animals from those islands to a shelter in New Jersey.
  • AVMA has been coordinating with many other organizations to get desperately needed animal feed to Puerto Rico and the USVI. Food shipments have begun to arrive to assist the horses at the racetrack in Puerto Rico.
  • Efforts are underway to try to assist the dairy industry in Puerto Rico by keeping facilities operating so they can provide milk products for the island. All facilities involved are currently running on generators.​
  • AVMA and Puerto Rico VMA board member Dr. Jose Arce is working to get reports from the nearly 300 veterinarians living and working in Puerto Rico as to their status.

HURRICANE IRMA:

  • The Florida State Agricultural Response Team reported that pet-friendly sheltering was commonplace during the evacuations and experienced few problems.
  • Temporary animal shelters in Georgia took in more than 1,600 horses and 600 pets.
  • Businesses affected by power outages related to Irma included at least 134 poultry farms and four dairies.
  • Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine on St. Kitts did not experience a direct hit but reported some physical damage, water damage, and power loss. Ross provided shelter for about 300 people and their pets.
  • The Florida Veterinary Medical Association initiated its disaster preparedness protocol, coordinated with Florida disaster response groups, and activated the readiness plan of the Florida Veterinary Corps - volunteer veterinarians and team members who are available in the event of a disaster relief and recovery launch.
  • The Florida state veterinarian issued a petition for nearby states to waive travel requirements, which most states did. Links to state animal movement orders can be found below.

HURRICANE HARVEY:

  • The Animal Response Operations Coordination Center in Texas has been deactivated.
  • Operations have moved from response to recovery. While there are still isolated groups of livestock being fed in place, most efforts are now focused on animal reunification.
  • Facial recognition software was used for the first time in the reunification process for pets in Texas.
  • FEMA beta tested an app that let shelterees indicate why they were remaining in temporary shelters after the storm had passed, with one option being difficulty in finding pet-friendly accommodations elsewhere. Organizers hoped the app would allow them to better address those needs in real time.
  • More than 2,300 livestock and 1,400 pets were taken in and sheltered at official shelters in Texas.
  • ​More than 500 pets were sheltered in temporary emergency shelters in Louisiana.
  • In Texas, the 54 counties affected by Hurricane Harvey are home to approximately 1.2 million cattle (about 27% of the state’s 4.46 million beef cow herd). Fortunately many ranchers, assisted by police, were able to herd their cattle to safer ground ahead of the hurricane.
  • Emergency personnel that deployed included:
    • Personnel from the Army’s 43rd Medical Detachment Veterinary Services provided protection for food quality and safety, as well as health care for military animals that deployed.
  • The Texas A&M Veterinary Emergency Team (VET) assessed and provided care for more than 2,000 animals in need, including search and rescue dogs, pets, horses, cattle, other livestock, and wildlife.

WESTERN WILDFIRES:

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